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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

As CPC gives blessing to revised Atlantic Avenue rezonings, more info emerges, but questions remain about enforcement and counter-parties. Nearby property owners to gain.

See collected coverage of M-CROWN rezonings: click here.

Yesterday I reported that the developer of one of two properties that gained a rezoning had been less than candid in his statements about ownership, and seemingly delayed acknowledgment of the property sale--and the sale price--until after the rezoning was announced.

Today, let's look at some other updates, and pending questions.

A day after 35th District Council Member Crystal Hudson announced approval of the two rezonings along Atlantic Avenue, along with a city commitment for a rezoning in the so-called M-CROWN district, the City Planning Commission met to consider--and approve--the changes, and also elicited a little more information about the project.

For example, there are limits on the scope of one rezoned area, as described below. However, that still, as far as I can tell, gives other property owners the benefit of the increased bulk without having to commit to the 35% affordable housing that Hudson negotiated with the project applicants.

Two days later, members of Brooklyn Community Board 8 discussed the announcement, as described below, with questions about that future neighborhood plan.

But several questions about the resolution remain to be clarified, notably how the pledge for 35% affordable housing, plus a total of $200,000 in funds for anti-displacement services, will be memorialized in an agreement.

Relate to that: who might the counter-party or (counter-parties) be, given that CB 8 was not part of those discussions?

A potential template from Sunset Park

One possible template (I speculate) is the rezoning last year for 737 Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, involving the developer Totem, which got approval last April (per Brooklyn Paper) for a 14-story building with 134 apartments, at a site occupied by a drive-through Dunkin Donuts.

The developer signed a "Community Benefits Agreement," supported by then Council Member Carlos Menchaca, on 2/22/21, with four non-profit organizations: Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC), Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, Opportunities For a Better Tomorrow, and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations.

Mandatory Inclusionary Housing options.
From HPD, using 2016 income levels
FAC agreed to act as an Affordable Housing Administrative Agent. 

The developers agreed to exceed the affordability requirements for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Option 1 (25% affordability), setting a ceiling (rather than an average) of 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) and ensuring that the component of 10% lower-income units average a maximum of 30% of AMI rather than 40% of AMI.

"Developers agree that the Affordable Housing Commitment shall be memorialized in a restrictive declaration and/or regulatory agreement with HPD, recorded in the City Register’s Office and indexed against the Premises," the document states.

The developers also agreed "to make commercially reasonable efforts to work with local hiring and contracting groups," such as the other three signatories, "to develop a local hiring and contracting program for both construction and permanent jobs that directly engages Sunset Park and Red Hook residents of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds."

The document was unveiled at a City Council hearing, as Patch reported 2/23/21, adding that "Menchaca pushed Totem... to hold public meetings so residents can understand the entire contents of the CBA." Indeed, a virtual information session was held on 3/3/21, before the project was approved. 

No one has publicly asked Hudson for such an information session regarding the two Atlantic Avenue projects.

Regarding 737 Fourth Avenue, “We believe this is a new model for MIH and sets a new bar for what’s expected of developers,” FAC Executive Director Michelle de la Uz told Bklyner 3/16/21. The bar, apparently, has been raised, given the higher levels of affordability.

City Planning Commission okays changes

The day after Hudson's announcement, the City Planning Commission considered the changes (video) as part of a special review session, to ensure that the changes were within the scope of what had already been studied within the environmental review.

Screenshot from City Planning Commission session

Ryan Singer of the Department of City Planning (DCP) first recapped the proposal, citing 17-story buildings with 228 and 210 apartments, respectively. See image above, which includes the original proposed affordability levels.

I last week estimated 428 total apartments, extrapolating from Hudson's prediction of 150 affordable units, but 438 seems more reasonable.

Screenshot from City Planning Commission session

With 1034-1042 Atlantic, Singer said, the scope of the rezoning area would be tightened, with the eastern boundary 150 feet west of Classon Avenue, as shown in the screenshot above. That, it went unsaid, omits a large CubeSmart self-storage facility from the rezoning. 

It does not, as I describe below, omit all parcels on Pacific Street not part of developer EMP Capital's project. Similarly, the rezoning of 870-888 Atlantic does not omit all parcels not part of the developer's project. 

That means the property owners are free riders, gaining from the rezoning without having to commit to the same affordability levels, because they're not signing a separate agreement.

CPC: affordable housing questions

Singer noted the Council modifications: regarding affordable housing, they officially are retaining Option 1 and replacing Option 2 with Option 3, the deep affordability options. 

Mandatory Inclusionary Housing options.
From HPD, using 2016 income levels
Both modifications, Singer said, are within scope.

Vice-Chair Kenneth Knuckles asked if, given the modifications, whether "the developer could either do Option 1 or deep affordability," Option 3.

"That’s right," Singer said. "They could choose to do either of those." 

Well, that's according to the legislation Council is expected to pass. 

But that ignored the commitment announced by Hudson, which must be memorialized in a separate document outside the Council legislative process.

CPC: neighborhood rezoning

Commissioner Anna Hayes Levin, who had expressed concern about private applications without a neighborhood plan, cited "press reports about the possibility of pursuing the M-CROWN rezoning" and asked for more information. 

CPC Chair (and DCP Director) Dan Garodnick responded that it was something they'd been working on for a while, "and we know this is a point of importance to the community boards and also the local Council Member and also to the agency and to the commission."

"So we are going to take the next steps to move forward with the plan here for M-CROWN," he said.
"We think it's the right thing and it’s the right moment."

"We are looking forward to that process," he added. "We're sure it will not be without complexity but we are really excited to work with the local Council Member and the two local community boards and come out with a a product that we all feel proud of and is a thoughtful plan."

The Commissioners then approved the modifications, with one abstention.

At Community Board 8

The rezonings were discussed a few times during the 4/14/22 full board meeting of Community Board 8.

Gib Veconi, who's led the M-CROWN subcommittee, commented, "These applications at 35% affordable, with the affordability levels that were negotiated, represent what I believe is the strongest affordable housing commitment of any private project I know of in Brooklyn, and Council Member Hudson deserves a lot of credit for that."

"Those affordability levels apply to those two buildings," he said, omitting mention of the adjacent parcels that were also rezoned. "The neighborhood rezoning itself is still open with respect to the level of affordable housing."

"If it happened, the affordability levels would be set based on the current MIH [Mandatory Inclusionary Housing] law," he said. "Council Member Hudson's statement indicated that she was interested in in trying to perhaps improve upon that. So I think that process will be will be very important to many people who live in this community."

Somewhat later, fellow board member Robert Puca praised Hudson, but noted that that the 35% affordable housing came because they accepted "more density than we have in our own M-CROWN guidelines," which he called a mixed outcome.

Puca also suggested that the resolution suggests that predecessor Council Member Laurie Cumbo, who approved two projects with affordability allowing higher income levels, could have asked more from developers.

So, he said, if the "if the developers agreed to 35% in income-linked housing"--a phrase he suggested was more precise than "affordable housing"--"then I think we should we should be asking for 40%." (He said that before anyone knew what the owner of 1034-1042 Atlantic paid for the property, which seems like a very good deal.)

"Because if they were so willing to do 35% and donate $200,000 to the community," Puca said, "it just shows that they're still going to make a lot of money."

What next?

Later, board member Sarah Lazur said,  "I think a lot of people are very interested in knowing what the process [for the neighborhood rezoning] is going to be, because Council Member Hudson talked about doing the process in a different way than has been done."

She asked if CB 8 could request a briefing from Hudson.

Land Use Committee Chair Sharon Wedderburn noted that the engagement process was "indeterminate at this point."

She said that CB 8, as of next September, will probably be meeting in person again. "But the process is really going to be a DCP process," in collaboration with Hudson and CB 8. "So what I will say to you now is that it's not a matter of being opaque. It's a matter of not having a plan at this moment to be able to share with the community at large."
The 870-888 Atlantic Ave.  site is in black.
 The full rezoning area is larger. From EAS.

Lazur said she understood, but still sought a briefing.

Wedderburn said, "I realized that you weren't present during the times when we had a large project before. You were not a resident of this community. But certainly there are large meetings that happen that are open to people and, as the planning process unfolds... there is great communication to be had and many opportunities for participation."

The scope of the rezonings: 870-888 Atlantic

Note that there was no modification of the 870-888 Atlantic rezoning.

As shown in the screenshot at right, there are several parcels to the west of the development site, which is outlined in black, which also have been rezoned. 

(Unlike with the 1034-1042 Atlantic Avenue rezoning, the boundary does not extend through the block to Pacific Street, which has low-rise residences between Vanderbilt and Underhill avenues.)

Those other rezoned parcels, west of 870-888 Atlantic, are east of the boundary of the 840 Atlantic Ave. rezoning, which was passed to allow an 18-story building along Atlantic Avenue. The owners of those parcels can now take advantage of the increased bulk offered by the rezoning.

According to the project's Environmental Assessment Statement, Projected Development Site 2 would consist of Lots 14 (864 Atlantic), Lot 15 (866 Atlantic, and Lot 16 (868 Atlantic), while Projected Development Site 3 would consist of Lot 11 (858 Atlantic). 

Both sites could would get a Floor Area Ratio of 8.5, which allows 17-story buildings, but narrow Lot 11--see the map--is surely too small. (Can they transfer the floor area? Unclear.)

The not unsubstantial Lot 12 (860 Atlantic) is considered unlikely to be redeveloped, because the building is likely rent-stabilized. A portion of Lot 10 was already part of the 840 Atlantic Ave. rezoning, at the eastern end.

Regarding 840 Atlantic, a side agreement had been supported by Community Board 8's Land Use Committee, in which the developer would agree to a 14-story boundary, purportedly to set a template for development to the east. 

But the full board did not support that motion, so no side agreement could be signed, and the evidence so far suggests a 17-story height along Atlantic Avenue.
Screenshot from CPC session

The scope of the rezonings: 1034-1042 Atlantic

As recapped in the screenshot at right, the rezoning area for 1034-1042 Atlantic was proposed to continue through to Pacific Street, in something of a square.

The Council omitted the eastern half of the rezoning area, which eliminates the CubeSmart self-storage facility, which otherwise would've been eligible to be redeveloped into a 17-story building. (It's a viable business with a long-term lease, it was said at a hearing.)

However, that does not omit all the parcels that aren't owned by applicant EMP Capital.

As noted in the screenshot below right, the 1034-1042 Atlantic development site, which extends to Pacific Street in a somewhat irregular design, is outlined in red.
The 1034-42 Atlantic Ave. development site is in
red. The full rezoning area is larger. From EAS.

There are several parcels along Pacific Street to the west of the development site that are included in the rezoning, presumably so it can be justified as part of a well-developed plan.

The owners of those parcels can now take advantage of the increased bulk offered by the rezoning. 

According to the Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS), only one other parcel likely would be redeveloped: Lot 52 (1041 Pacific) and Lot 53 (1039 Pacific): they could be merged into a 4,000 square foot lot and developed into a 9-story building.

After all, it's across the street from the under-construction 1010 Pacific.

The other lots within the rezoning area that are not projected to redevelop include Lot 57 (1033 Pacific) and Lot 59 (1031 Pacific), which each have 6,000 gross square foot multi-family walk-up buildings and have eight apartments, "likely under rent control regulations," which protects them.

Also, according to the EAS, Lot 61 (1025 Pacific) "is a 3,200 SF interior lot that is improved with a 3,200 GSF, 1-story commercial building that was constructed in 2014," housing "an active dog boarding and daycare facility" (Barks & Rec Center). So, given the small size of the lot and its active use, "redevelopment of this lot is not considered likely." Stay tuned.

Original map by Kaja Kühl, adapted to add 962 Pacific; rezonings in light blue are pending;
apartment counts, from Environmental Assessment Statements, include areas beyond the
parcels owned by applicants; 1050 Pacific would now have 234 units and 1010 Pacific 175 units